ICare “Mis-Advertisements” on Contraception and Abortion

Robin Marty

In our third installment of a multi-part series on Human Life Alliance's misinformation campaign, we examine fact versus fiction on their claims on contraceptive methods.

This article was updated at 5:35 pm EST February 10th to correct a typographical error.

In part one of our series, we watched the Human Life Alliance play fast and lose with the
facts when it came to abortion laws in the United States and the various developmental stages of the human fetus.

In part 2, we saw them use unsound "scientific" studies and reports intended to
guilt rape and incest victims into carrying pregnancies to term by, for
example, having a rape crisis counselor quoted as saying, “I am familiar with no case of incest-related
abortion that did not make matters worse.”

But the misinformation presented in those pages is
nothing compared to the outright lies in the "Abortion Methods"
section of the Icare advertising

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Let’s take each statement one at a time:

Emergency Contraception – Plan B
(Morning After Pill)


Icare Claim:  The Icare supplement
claims that EC prohibits a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus, and
that therefore emergency contraception causes abortion. 

Fact: First, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services,
EC does not work by causing a
fertilized egg not to implant.

With ECPs, higher doses of the same hormones found
in regular birth control pills prevent pregnancy in the first place by keeping
the egg from leaving the ovary or keeping the sperm from joining the egg. While it is possible that ECPs might
work by keeping a fertilized egg from attaching to the uterus, the most
up-to-date research suggests that ECPs do not work in this way.

Even if it did cause a fertilized egg not to
implant, that is not actually a method of abortion, as the HHS explains. 
"Emergency contraception works before pregnancy begins. It will not work
if a woman is already pregnant. Abortion takes place after a fertilized egg has
attached to the uterus."

Scientific data agrees that pregnancy does not occur
until implantation
meaning that Plan B cannot by definition cause an abortion.

"Before pregnancy begins, a female oocyte (egg) must join, by
spermatozoon in a process referred to in medicine as "fertilization",
or commonly known as "conception" (though the definition of the
English word "conception" is somewhat controversial). Fertilization
occurs usually through the act of sexual intercourse, in which a man ejaculates
inside a woman, thus releasing his sperm; however, the advent of artificial
insemination has made it possible for women to become pregnant if prexisting
medical conditions from either the woman or the man make fertilization through
sexual intercourse difficult, or if a woman chooses to become pregnant without
a male partner, for any number of reasons. Though pregnancy begins at
implantation, it is often convenient to date from the first day of a woman’s
Last Menstrual Period (LMP). This is used to calculate the Expected Date of
Delivery (EDD).”


RU 486 – Mifeprex (The Abortion Pill):


Icare Claim: Besides the obviously loaded language of the
section (the repeated use of the word baby, or switching
"abortionist" for doctor or health care provider) Icare plays very lose with the
statistics on RU 486 failure.  They state an 8 percent failure rate for
pregnancies of up to 7 weeks, and a 23 percent failure rate for pregnancies
from 8-9 weeks.

Fact: According to recent studies
RU 486 has a 3 percent failure rate at 7 weeks or less.  Mifeprex is
not FDA approved or medically recommended in pregnancies past 7 weeks, making the other statistic, which came from an anti-abortion website and is a
link to an article that no longer exists
nothing more than an irrelevant scare tactic.

Vacuum Aspiration


Icare Claim: In explaining the procedure, Icare states "The baby is torn into pieces as he or she is
being pulled through the hose."  During manual vacuum aspiration, the
gestational sac is often left intact

Fact: During
the first trimester the fetus, which is at most 2 and 1/2 inches long and does not have limbs.  It also is incapable of feeling pain until at least 26

Dilation and Suction Curettage

Icare Claim: Icare states that a D&C
will create "profuse" bleeding.  The citation for that goes to a
site that does not mention profuse bleeding.

Fact: D&C’s were often used to treat abnormal or
irregular bleeding in women

and Evacuation (D&E):

Icare Claim: Icare, in its truest
propaganda form, gives a grisly description of the procedure known as D&E,
with crushing skulls, snapping spines and torn limbs.  To support its
version, Icare sources the American
Pregnancy Association
, The National Abortion Federation, and WebMD.

Fact: It comes as no shock that in going to each source,
there is no description like the one they give, even in the clinical guidelines
section they reference. These are scare tactics at their worst.  There is also no mention that 90 percent of all
abortions are performed in the first trimester
well before a D&E would be necessary. 
The increase in second trimester abortions that would require a D&E
is often being caused by the creation of additional rules that are making it
harder for women to quickly obtain abortions, and causing less providers to offer them.

or Prostaglandin Abortion

Icare Claim: The advertising supplement speaks of the procedure
as if it were a common type of abortion readily performed.  They claim that the baby is killed
before hand during the process to avoid legal complications, and that should
the baby somehow survive it is left to malinger without medical care to ensure
its demise.

Fact: Icare’s sources for this section
are Jill Stanek
, and WebMD.  They use WebMD selectively as a source, not mentioning that this type
of abortion "in the second or third  trimester is usually done
because of a medical problem or illness present in  the fetus or the
pregnant woman."  Although it is true that a fetus is injected
potassium chloride beforehand to insure it is not birthed alive, they fail to
mention that the reason it is necessary is because of the so called
"partial birth" abortion ban pushed by anti-abortion activists,
a definition so loose that it can be spread to a myriad of other medical
methods.  "To avoid performing [what could potentially be defined as]
a partial birth abortion while performing a legal dilatation and extraction,
digitalis or potassium chloride may be injected onto the fetus to induce
preoperative fetal death."

Birth Abortion or Dilation and Extraction (D&X)

Icare Claim:  This section is detailed, gory, and written with no
actual citations to any medical texts or supporting materials.  Icare
does state, however, that although a “partial birth abortion” ban has been
passed, it has not had any impact on the frequency of late term abortions.  There is a reason for that, as you will

Fact: There is no such medical term as a "partial birth
abortion."  NPR has an excellent factual look at the D&X debate, noting that contrary to the claims of some abortion opponents, most such
abortions do not take place in the third trimester of pregnancy, or after fetal
"viability." Indeed, when some members of Congress tried to amend the
bill to ban only those procedures that take place after viability, abortion opponents
complained that would leave most of the procedures legal.

Birth Control

Yes, to the Human
Life Alliance, even birth control is an abortion, meaning a vast majority of
the female population is having abortions left and right, month after month,
over and over again. 

Icare states "Studies have shown
that ovulation rates in women taking oral contraceptives ranged from 1.7
percent to 28.6 percent per cycle. Ovulation rates for women taking progestin
only pills (the mini-pill) ranged from 33 percent to 65 percent."

Fact: The
source for ”breakthrough ovulation rates” has moved, but I chased down the
original article here
First, the rates of "breakthrough ovulation" were only that high,
according to the article, if women did not take them as prescribed. 
Secondly, and more importantly, the data used by the article, which was
published in 1999, was pulled from studies ranging back to 1967

Dr. James Trussell, an expert on reproductive health at Princeton University,
dismisses the group’s argument.

really does not matter how many ovulations there are,” states Trussell. “Both
types of pills cause thickened cervical mucus that blocks sperm from ascending.
Of course pregnancy can occur even when the pills are used perfectly. A third
mechanism of action is making the endometrium not receptive to implantation.
Thus, in theory a fertilized egg would be prevented from implanting. While that
would not be an abortion (which can occur only after implantation), some would
consider anything that works after fertilization to be an abortion.”

Trussell continues on to
point out that the same issues that can face birth control (a possible
ovulation that then leads to a fertilized but non-implanted egg), also happens
to mothers who breastfeed.  Perhaps
that will be the next anti-abortion campaign: Formula Feeding for Life.

Icare claims that birth
control manufacturers have "redefined the terms ‘conception’ and
‘pregnancy.’"  However, it’s quite clear who is trying to redefine
the timeline

Misrepresentation. Guilt.  Partially quoted sources.  Misleading
rhetoric.  Icare specializes in
all of those tactics. And, as you will see in Part 4, they push even harder
when discussing the effects of having an abortion.


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